Wildfires threaten hundreds of homes in southern Australia

Firefighters struggled Wednesday to contain a wildfire blazing out of control near the southern Australian city of Hobart, threatening up to 1,000 homes.

Hot, dry winds were pushing the fire one of several blazing across southern Australia on Wednesday downhill toward a wildlife reserve in the suburbs of Hobart on the southern island state of Tasmania, according to Danny Reid, a spokesman for the state fire service.

Reid said up to 1,000 homes could be as risk, unless firefighters succeed in containing the blaze.

"There's four or five streets that back onto the reserve. It's got the potential to threaten about 1,000 homes," he said.

Eighteen fire service crews and one helicopter are fighting the fire, which started around midday at a disused quarry about 2 kilometers (a little more than a mile) from central Hobart, Reid said.

Meanwhile, firefighters and volunteers were working to contain a fire burning near Port Lincoln on South Australia state's Eyre Peninsula, where deadly blazes killed nine people and injured 113 others last year.

Wildfires are a regular feature of Australian summer months, burning thousands of hectares (acres) of forests and sometimes blasting into towns and cities with deadly results, reports AP.

About 20 firefighting vehicles and two water bomber aircraft were working to contain the fire, which was mostly under control by midday Wednesday, the Country Fire Service said.

Around nine other fires were also burning across South Australia on Wednesday, although they were mostly small grass fires that had been contained by firefighters, the agency said.